TCS Daily

The Will to Power in the Epicenter of Evil

By Ilya Shapiro - April 7, 2004 12:00 AM

Fallujah. It is a name that will live in infamy and bring pause to every pundit and practitioner of foreign policy, no matter the ideology or school of international relations theory. It is the place where the soft underbelly of the Coalition Provisional Authority was exposed, where the front line of the clash of civilizations rendered its casualties. It is the epicenter of evil in the new Iraq.

As I was thinking about this article, it was hard to get past the anger, past the revulsion, past cursing the city that so brazenly incinerated the hand that fed it, past casting poxes on all the psychotic Fallujahns who gave strength both to those who would have us surrender the cause of freedom and those who would have us kill 'em all and let God (whichever one) sort 'em out. I was paralyzed, knowing I had to speak out about this special horror yet not comprehending what kind of human reaction would be worthy of the inhumanity that was wrought.

Then I realized: hatred and revulsion are precisely what is needed in this moment, for we have entered the heart of darkness, where resolute anger is the only way to work justice against savage evil. As Don Juan commanded to his trembling admirals at Lepanto, "Gentlemen, the time for counsel is past and the time for fighting has come."

In other words, out of this unspeakable devilry, we will come back harder than ever, killing the wicked and accelerating Iraq's entry into the modern world -- for its sake and for our own. Fallujah earned itself a delayed place in the line to restore electricity, running water, and self-rule, but the rest of Iraq seems to have shown the proper disgust with the actions of its countrymen.

In yet other words, and despite the apparent similarities, Fallujah is decidedly not, and cannot
possibly be, another Mogadishu. The Iraqi idolaters, worshiping the flayed corpses of the Great Satan, are a different animal from the Somali self-indulgers, seeking to humiliate all who threaten their ephemeral power. Though ostensibly co-religionist, the frenzied Fallujahns seek a perverted eternity while the marauding Mogadishans sought temporal lucre. Moreover, nobody had a plan for Somalia, not the UN, not the French, not the Americans; in Iraq, the warlord-in-chief is gone, a constitution in place, the rebuilding is on, and just this week President Bush reconfirmed that the C.P.A. would transfer power on schedule. Most importantly, we are not about to cut and run.

The war against terrorism has had setbacks before, of course, and the nominal casualties in the Fallujah ambush (four) paled in comparison to Bali and Khobar, the U.S.S. Cole and the embassies -- let alone 9/11 and the in-kind contribution to the Spanish Socialist Party's electoral campaign. Indeed, the effort to rebuild and renew Iraq since the formal end of hostilities against Saddam's army has been rocked by regular encounters with a variety of Islamicist irregulars.

But the unmitigated depravity of the murder and mutilation of aid workers -- particularly when shown on uncensored videotape and front-page photographs -- galls all but the most irredentist fundamentalist. To paraphrase an al-Jazeera interview with a leading cleric, martyrdom and jihad may be sacraments, but the remains of even the most vile infidel must be granted the same respect as those of a dog (whose charred and mangled body one would presumably not hang off a bridge).

With this episode, the myth of an Iraqi "resistance" should be put to rest. Fallujah was not the work of pro-Saddam partisans, and the cheering adolescents were not a brigade of Young Ba'athists. When they chant for death to the occupiers, they do not impugn the old enemies of a secular tyranny, but rather the forces of modernity and progress, reform and enlightenment. They are terrorists of the Al Qaeda mold, who would like nothing better than keep Arabia in a stone age if it means removing all Western influences.

Come July, Iraq will need popular, charismatic leaders whose names don't begin with Ayatollah. A handful of people who won't devolve into dictators -- some true statesmen -- who are nationalistic enough to love Iraq but enlightened enough to work a liberal Islamic renaissance. Not Arafats, but Ataturks.

These are the people we need to find and support (clandestinely if necessary), so that they may
legitimize the forces of good and counter the false prophets of Fallujah.

Ilya Shapiro last wrote for TCS on the Iraqi constitution.


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